Saturday, June 27, 2020

"Lies" Jonathan Butler

Song#:  3177
Date:  06/27/1987
Debut:  75
Peak:  27
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Smooth Jazz

Pop Bits:  This South African singer/songwriter and guitarist was just a kid when he took part in a touring show. By the time he was in his teens, Butler had signed a record deal and scored a few hits in South Africa in '75 and '76. A couple years later, the teen idol's career took a bit of a left turn when he joined the jazz-leaning funk/rock band Pacific Express. He stayed for a couple of albums before heading back out on his own. He signed on with Jive Records and in 1985 recorded a solo album titled Introducing Jonathan Butler with producer Barry Eastmond (who was just beginning to have success collaborating with Freddie Jackson). It was an instrumental LP that was more along the lines of smooth jazz with Butler's guitar taking the lead. The track "Baby Please Don't Take It (I Need Your Love)" would make the AC chart at #25 while the album got to #9 on the Traditional Jazz chart, #46 R&B, and #101 Pop. For his self-titled follow-up, Butler included a few instrumentals, but the bulk of the tracks featured him singing. He also recorded enough tunes to make it a double LP. Eastmond still stayed on as producer and co-writer on several tracks. This first single, which Butler wrote with Jolyon Skinner, got issued out ahead of the album. It would do well reaching #5 at R&B and #16 AC while cracking the Pop Top 30. In turn, the album would get to #13 R&B, #12 Contemporary Jazz, and #50 Pop. Later on, the song would earn Butler a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. Another track from the album, "Going Home," would be nominated for Best R&B Instrumental Performance. The tune certainly put Butler's career in high gear, but unfortunately it would end up being his only single to make the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This is certainly one of the sunniest songs I've heard about being cheated on. The tune reminded me of something that George Benson might have done earlier in the decade. It was nice that a smooth jazz-leaning pop tune could still catch on and get inside the Pop Top 30. This was pleasant crossover ear candy with Butler selling the song well. Eastmond's production was appropriate and it let Butler shine. He was only 26 years old when he did this album and it sounded like the product of someone a bit older with more experience. Then again, Butler had been working/performing since he was a kid, so this wasn't his first rodeo. The experience paid off and Butler had a solid career after this. It's too bad he wasn't able to get back on the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Butler's career continued to do well following this hit. The album would generate another R&B Top 10 hit with the #10 "Take Good Care of Me." His next album, 1988's More Than Friends, featured two more R&B Top 10s. While things cooled off after that at R&B, Butler's albums became fixtures on the Contemporary Jazz chart. In all, fourteen of his albums would reach the CJ Top 10 with three of them hitting #1. Beginning around 2004, Butler also began recording gospel music. Four of his albums would reach the Top 10 on the Gospel chart.


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